GYC Village

blog posts from GYC's participants, alumni, & staff

Art for Healing Diverse Communities

Brookie Maxwell discusses her piece, “Our Lady of Nyamata” and “Due Diligence” focused on bringing together various perpetrators (including Western companies) to see how to stop the cycle of violence.

Gallery 138: Art for Healing Diverse Communities Exhibit
By Tamuz Avivi

Art and Finance in Global Engagement, or Art for Healing Diverse Communities: July 3rd at Gallery 138

We reached the gallery on 138 West 17th Street at about 17:00, after more than eight hours of running around in the New York City heat.
As we walked inside, we were welcomed by the gallery director, Brookie Maxwell, who was standing near a corner table filled with much needed refreshments. The room was very well lit; the wooden floor was spotless, and the walls were covered with portraits and pictures featuring Rwandan elements. A couple of unattached doors, decorated with circular symbols painted in chalk, stood near the entrance.
On the other end of the small gallery, behind a glass partition, a full sized skeleton was laid on the floor, below a straight line of knives hanging from the ceiling.

As we sat down, we learned that the skeleton in the piece, called “Due Diligence and Our Lady of Nymata”, belonged to woman murdered during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in Nymata – a small town south of Kigali, where many have lost their lives.
Next, we were handed two numbered pieces of paper, from which we had to read aloud whenever our number came up, while passing a traditional knife among us. The text turned out to be a narrative describing the influences leading to, and the stages of, two separate genocides, which evidently shared many similar factors and characteristics (we learned that genocide normally has eight stages – available in detail here:

After we finished reading, Maxwell, who sees art as an innovative, effective means to educate, explained that the inspiration for the exhibition came from the time she spent in Rwanda, where she used different art forms to try to improve the relationships between separate groups and individuals. Following her experience, she decided to create the exhibition in order to inform others about what happened during the genocide, and to help prevent any future denials or outbreaks.

As the session was coming to its end, a couple of our program participants gave presentations on how art is applied for healing in their own communities: One of our Rwandan participants, who gave the first presentation, explained how she uses theatre to address issues such as HIV infection and sexual exploitation. In the second presentation, our participant from Bosnia-Herzegovina, showed us through a series of photos, how artists in her country use powerful visual images in monuments and sculptures to commemorate those who died as a result of the Bosnian War (details about the war available at: We also learned however, how art has helped to rejuvenate and revive Bosnian society after the conflict.

During our time at gallery 138, we saw once more how art can promote healing and understanding among diverse communities and how important it is to prevent future tragedies.

More details about the meeting available at:


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